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Aurora school board candidate dollars trickle in as most money in race is coming from outside groups

A kindergartner flips the page while reading in class at Crawford Elementary in Aurora. (Denver Post file)
A kindergartner flips the page while reading in class at Crawford Elementary in Aurora. (Denver Post file)

New campaign finance reports filed Friday show direct cash contributions for Aurora’s school board candidates have slowed down.

Each candidate’s total amount raised has moved only slightly compared to almost three weeks ago. Miguel In Suk Lovato remains the candidate with the most raised to date with $16,516, up from $14,181 in last month’s report.

Incumbent Barbara Yamrick again failed to file a campaign finance report.

The election is high stakes, as Aurora Public Schools has been launching new reforms and inviting charter schools to the district. The four seats up for grabs could represent a majority on the seven-member board and the election could change the district’s direction.

Some of the large, new contributions reported included Patrick Hamill, CEO of Oakwood Homes, contributing $1,000 to the campaign of Gail Pough, and Ken Tuchman, CEO of TeleTech, a company that outsources customer service, contributing $750 to Lovato’s.

The group Middle Age Democratic Women, or MAD Women, donated to Pough and Jane Barber
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The larger contributions reported in Friday’s filings were not cash donations, but rather in-kind services. Union-endorsed candidates — Kyla Armstrong-Romero, Debbie Gerkin, Marques Ivey and Kevin Cox — all reported large contributions of in-kind services totaling more than $12,700 for mail from the union-affiliated Public Education Committee and $3,996.50 for office space and printing contributed by the Aurora Council for Teachers and Students.

Those four candidates also reported new campaign reimbursements in an attempt to clear up what otherwise could be a campaign finance violation. Candidate committees are not allowed under Colorado law to contribute to other candidate committees.

Armstrong-Romero said Friday that what appear as contributions are reimbursements that the slate members are giving each other when one candidate pays up front for joint advertisements. Armstrong-Romero said she and the other candidates have been in touch with state officials about the matter, and no formal complaint had been filed according to state records.

Friday’s finance reports only show a piece of the money being spent to influence voters. Earlier in the week, independent expenditure committees updated their finance reports with the state.

Two committees, one affiliated with teachers unions and one affiliated with Democrats for Education Reform, together have spent more than $225,400 on trying to sway the Aurora school board election just in the second half of October. That includes filings showing more than $32,000 in spending in the last few days before Election Day on Tuesday.

Voters in this election are split between Adams and Arapahoe counties. As of Friday morning the Secretary of State’s office reported Adams County voters had returned 32,904 ballots and Arapahoe County voters had turned in 50,449 ballots.

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